Groundworks, HDL’s ‘incubator for creativity,’ reopens

Herrick District Library’s digital learning lab, Groundworks, has reopened to provide a place to discover and develop their next big idea.

“I want Groundworks to be an incubator for creativity, and that’s going to be different for everyone who walks in the door,” says Dan Zuberbier, who took over the Groundworks coordinator position in March. “I want it to be a safe place to be creative. I want people to use the space to create something they’ve always wanted to create but couldn’t.”

The skills learned at Groundworks could help students learn to lay out a book, design a logo, start a new business, build a website, record a podcast, take photos, or learn to pitch their big idea.

After opening in late summer 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the space to temporarily close last year. Appointments continue to be required due to COVID restrictions.

Sign-up begins May 25

HDL patrons will be able to sign up for one-on-one sessions or open hours beginning May 25. One-on-one appointments are available 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays.

During one-on-one sessions (either in person or virtual), Zuberbier will help people with their specific questions about anything from digital photography to entrepreneurship.

During open hours (5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the third Saturday of the month), patrons may reserve podcasting equipment, digital SLR cameras, and analog-to-digital conversion equipment, which allows patrons to convert VHS, printed photographs, photo negatives, cassette tapes, 8mm/Super8 film and a number of other analog media to digital formats.

Registration for one-on-one appointments and open hours sessions is available at

Free to library cardholders

Patrons may also reserve a laptop equipped with design software or bring their own. All six laptops available will be loaded with the design software suite Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe Creative Cloud includes Premiere Pro for industry-standard pro video and film editing; Photoshop and Lightroom for photo editing; Illustrator to create illustrations and vector art; InDesign to create layouts; Dimension to create photo-realistic 3D designs; and Dreamweaver to design and develop websites, among others.

For now, COVID-19 safety protocols dictate all sessions must be appointment-based. A maximum of five patrons is allowed in the space at one time. This fall, depending on health directives, Groundworks could restart in-person classes in addition to live-streaming classes.

Groundworks’ resources are entirely free to HDL cardholders 16 and older (those living in the HDL district may obtain a free library card with a current photo ID).

Future depends on need

Before taking on Groundworks, Zuberbier managed the 3D printing services at East Carolina University’s Joyner Library. Prior to that, he taught high school social studies and, most recently, was a librarian with Kent District Library.

On his desk in Groundworks, a 3D-modeled handle in gray plastic sits next to a similar-looking but broken version. The little gray handle is one Zuberbier created on 3D-printing equipment also available to patrons.

Whether users want to start a business using current market data in library online resources, prototype a new product or just make life easier around the home (like fixing their crockpot lid with a 3D-printed handle), Zuberbier says, Groundworks “is a place for ideas.”

Where Groundworks goes from here, Zuberbier says, depends on the needs of the community.


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